Last night, as we were packing for our next journey from Italy to Slovenia, Kyle found something I’ve been looking for since Thailand (which was now four months ago)—my facial cleanser. It’s funny, that with such a scant amount of possessions to our name, something would still get lost in the shuffle of stuff.

Sure, facial cleanser is no big deal. I could technically buy more anywhere, and with the amount of makeup I’ve worn this year (read: almost nil), I don’t need to sweat scrubbing my face more than a few times per week. But still… it made me happy to find it.

It’s around this time of year on the blog, in the spirit of spring cleaning, when I recap a few of my minimal life patterns—my wardrobe, our kitchen gear, the family schedule, and the like. Seeing as I don’t currently have a home to declutter and organize, I thought throughout the spring I’d share other ways I keep current parts of my life to a happy minimum.

Today? Let’s talk about beauty and hygiene routines.

How I clean and moisturize my face

What Kyle found deep down in one of our bags was my simple, homemade mix of olive oil cleanser. Here are the details behind how and why it works.

It’s a simple recipe I’ve used since 2009, and it still works great on my skin—about three parts extra virgin olive oil to one part castor oil. I also like adding a drop of melaleuca (tea tree) oil for its antiseptic properties. I hear frankincense is great for wrinkles, so I may try that next.

a simple, minimalist beauty routine

And yes, I was surprised as you might be now that it hasn’t gotten mildewy. I’m pretty sure it’s because I have it stored in one of these travel containers; it’s completely airtight. (I’m smitten with GoToobs after this year—not one thing has come even close to leaking.)

In the morning, I splash my face with water, then moisturize either with Hair Butter (it smells heavenly) or with a simple dollop of coconut oil. Easy peasy.

How I care for my hair

After six years, this post about going poo-free remains the blog’s most popular post. I’ve since discovered that there are climates more conducive to going completely sans shampoo, and for me, the more humid the environment, the harder it is on my hair.

Baking soda also lightened my hair, which I didn’t like, so I stopped using it a few years ago and switched to—well, nothing. I just scrub my scalp with my fingertips every few days in the shower. It works well for me in super-dry central Oregon, but on our worldwide trip, I’ve needed a bit more.


I now use a mild, natural shampoo, just on the roots around my face, about every two weeks (this brand is my current favorite). I haven’t used conditioner in years, since my ends aren’t stripped with anything but a mild water rinse.

In dry climates, I tame frizzes and ends with a tiny smattering of hair butter after letting it air dry.

And since I’ve been growing out my gray hair since last year, I haven’t had to worry about keeping up with color. Most days, I really like the look, but the verdict is still out on how I feel about the whole process. There’s a certain freedom to being myself and letting the gray naturally add its sparkle, but I still feel humorously like a bit of a rebel by being a thirty-something who isn’t masking the aging process.

(No pressure, but if more of you join in the fun, we’ll collectively remind culture that this is normal and to be celebrated—women can be silver foxes, too!).

(And if you follow me on Instagram, I’ll take a gray hair update pic soon. It’s changed a bit since last summer.)

Everything else

I still use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap on my body.

coconut oil

I still moisturize with either Hair Butter or coconut oil.

I still use Mineral Fusion makeup, though when I return to the States, I’ll be in the market for finding a better mineral-based mascara. (If you have ideas, I’m all ears!)

I use a tiny smudge of whatever natural toothpaste is on sale, and use a sprinkling of just baking soda about once per week as a polish—and our whole family loves these battery-operated toothbrushes.

…and I still haven’t found a natural deodorant I like. Some work alright in dry climates (I like the Weleda brand when I’m in central Oregon), but otherwise, nothing feels strong enough to me.

This is about all I keep on hand, whether I’m traveling or at home. Years ago I’d hold on to “extra” products just in case, but I tossed them all once I realized I’d never really use them. I love having just what I need—no need for any extra bathroom storage.

If you’re curious, here’s how all this works as we travel!

travel kit

And if you’re curious about your own favorite products, check out the Skin Deep Database to see if they’re as ick-free as you prefer.

Alright, your turn—how do you keep your beauty and hygiene routines to a delightful minimum?